The Visualization Studio offers a wide variety of unique technologies and capabilities. This very variety, however, can sometimes overwhelm potential users of the facility, who may wonder how its extraordinary potential can best be exploited to fulfill their actual research goals. With this in mind, we offer the following case studies, providing diverse examples of how the Visualization Studio has already been used with extremely satisfying results.
One of the strengths of the Visualization Studio is the display wall’s ability to work with high resolution imagery. Murray McGillivray, Professor of English, has made use of these capabilities for examining the high resolution manuscript images from the Cotton Nero A.x. Project. Not only was Professor McGillivray able to view these entire images at full resolution, he was further able to make use of photo manipulation software to adjust their contrast and other properties to explore image detail not normally visible. To facilitate their close examination of these enhancements, local faculty members and graduate students were invited to come to the Visualization Studio for a showcase of this work. Professor McGillivray notes, “The research that was accomplished using the special equipment revealed several important aspects of the precious manuscript that were previously unknown or misunderstood by scholars, new knowledge that the team intends to present at the Medieval Association of the Pacific meeting in San Diego in March 2013.”
Another use of the Visualization Studio has been as a performance space that promotes experiential learning and new explorations in research creation and dissemination. In a dramatic production for a small audience (the Studio space can comfortably accommodate just over two dozen people), the display wall can act as a dynamic backdrop; a set that changes at the click of the mouse. In this capacity Patrick Finn and his students created, rehearsed, and performed a dramatic presentation of excerpts from the University’s Common Reading Program 2012 book, Bitter Medicine by Clem and Olivier Martini.
The Visualization Studio can also provide a venue for hosting workshops and other meetings. Pictured above, the SPM8 workshop hosted by the NeuroLab in the University’s Psychology Department, explored advanced techniques for fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging, an imaging technique particularly suited to measuring brain activity) acquisition, study design, analysis, and quality assurance. The Visualization Studio was well suited for this task as the display wall’s high resolution allows in-depth examination of imagery. Additionally the display wall supported the viewing of both Power Point content (above image, right side of display wall) as well as a simultaneous demonstration of software (SPM8, MATLAB, MRIcron) in use (above image, left side of display wall). Food and beverages are allowed in the Studio, so catering, if desired, can be arranged for these events. Space for seats and tables limits the number of participants to approximately 15-18.
The Visualization Studio supports a wide variety of statistical analysis and visual analytics software, including Excel, SPSS, SAS*, STATA*, and Tableau*. Jenny Godley, Assistant Professor in Sociology, found the room very useful for analyzing study data. The ability to view more than fifty columns of data across the display wall facilitates the discovery of trends and correlations more easily and more quickly than is possible on the limited width of a traditional desktop monitor. Furthermore, the Studio’s proximity to Spatial and Numeric Data Services (SANDS) means users can benefit from nearby expertise in GIS and statistical software as well as additional sources of data.
Several computer science and engineering groups have been actively using the Visualization Studio to develop and explore new interface and software possibilities. Christian Jacob, director of the LINDSAY Virtual Human project, describes his plans for using the visualization studio: "The large display wall will provide exceptional ways to look at thousands of anatomical parts, structures and 3D scan data. We can seamlessly merge high-resolution mesh data with our physiology simulations, which can then be discussed among team members, medical students or in group settings in the Vis Studio."
Similarly, Frank Maurer, Associate Vice-President (Research), has his group members exploring the use of Microsoft Kinect and Apple iPad hardware as exciting input devices for the display wall. Describing the Visualization Studio Maurer states, "The Vis Studio allows my team to prototype multi-surface systems with our industrial partners to interact with vast amounts of data to support teams in oil and gas exploration, network monitoring and resource infrastructure planning. The Studio is an essential environment for dealing with the 'big data' challenges of the future."